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Woody's yoga demo is a hit!

Arthur J Pais in Toronto | September 08, 2003 20:04 IST

Woody HarrelsonWith Anthony Hopkins getting bad marks for grouchiness, Nicole Kidman receiving effusive star treatment, and Denzel Washington gathering praise for his affability, Hollywood stars are getting a lot of notice at the Toronto International Film Festival.

But the attention Woody Harrelson received on September 7 was quite a story.

At least 1,100 people turned up for a well-publicised outdoor yoga class on the University of Toronto campus, which had Harrelson and many cast members of his new film, Go Further, practising various asanas.

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Harrelson, a dedicated vegetarian and enthusiastic supporter for legalising marijuana, is in Toronto to promote the film about the eco-friendly antics of a group that travels from Seattle to Los Angeles on an inner journey.

Harrelson, 42, is the star of controversial films like Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers and Milos Forman's The People vs Larry Flynt. He says he became conscious of holistic life about 15 years ago.

According to director Ron Mann, the movie follows Harrelson and a small group of activists on cycles and a bio-fuelled bus-ride down the Pacific Coast highway to promote sustainable and organic lifestyle choices. Along for the ride is Steve Clark, a self-proclaimed junk food junkie, who gives up fast food for things like 'hemp burgers with a side of resin'.

"There are viable alternatives to our habitual, environmentally destructive behaviours," according to Mann.

The travellers include a yoga teacher, a raw food chef, a hemp activist, and a college student who impulsively hop aboard.

"We see the hostility these pilgrims encounter, and watch as their ideas are challenged from within and without," the filmmaker adds.

Among the people the group meets is an entrepreneur who runs a paper company without harming trees; an organic farmer who believes nature is his partner; a man who uses humour to fight for environmental causes.

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The group also meets environment-friendly musicians like Dave Matthews, The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Anthony Kiedis; Natalie Merchant, Michael Franti, Medeski, Martin & Wood and String Cheese Incident.

At the yoga demo, organic juices were handed out along with plenty of literature about saving earth. "I wish more stars could do what Woody is doing," says a teenager. "He is not afraid to come out in the open and tell us what is wrong with our bodies and souls."

Boris Martin, who is planning to study cinema in Toronto, says he was curious to see what was happening. First he thought Harrelson was up to some stunts. "But he is really convinced of what he is doing," adds the young man. "It is so cool."

Photograph: Getty Images

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